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Le Morte D'Arthur, Volume I (of II) - King Arthur and of his Noble Knights of the Round Table
by Thomas Malory
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LE MORTE D'ARTHUR

By Sir Thomas Malory

King Arthur and of his Noble Knights of the Round Table

IN TWO VOLS.—VOL. I

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

PREFACE OF WILLIAM CAXTON



CONTENTS:

CHAPTER I. How Uther Pendragon sent for the duke of Cornwall and Igraine his wife, and of their departing suddenly again.

CHAPTER II. How Uther Pendragon made war on the duke of Cornwall, and how by the mean of Merlin he lay by the duchess and gat Arthur.

CHAPTER III. Of the birth of King Arthur and of his nurture.

CHAPTER IV. Of the death of King Uther Pendragon.

CHAPTER V. How Arthur was chosen king, and of wonders and marvels of a sword taken out of a stone by the said Arthur.

CHAPTER VI. How King Arthur pulled out the sword divers times.

CHAPTER VII. How King Arthur was crowned, and how he made officers.

CHAPTER VIII. How King Arthur held in Wales, at a Pentecost, a great feast, and what kings and lords came to his feast.

CHAPTER IX. Of the first war that King Arthur had, and how he won the field.

CHAPTER X. How Merlin counselled King Arthur to send for King Ban and King Bors, and of their counsel taken for the war.

CHAPTER XI. Of a great tourney made by King Arthur and the two kings Ban and Bors, and how they went over the sea.

CHAPTER XII. How eleven kings gathered a great host against King Arthur.

CHAPTER XIII. Of a dream of the King with the Hundred Knights.

CHAPTER XIV. How the eleven kings with their host fought against Arthur and his host, and many great feats of the war.

CHAPTER XV. Yet of the same battle.

CHAPTER XVI. Yet more of the same battle.

CHAPTER XVII. Yet more of the same battle, and how it was ended by Merlin.

CHAPTER XVIII. How King Arthur, King Ban, and King Bors rescued King Leodegrance, and other incidents.

CHAPTER XIX. How King Arthur rode to Carlion, and of his dream, and how he saw the questing beast.

CHAPTER XX. How King Pellinore took Arthur's horse and followed the Questing Beast, and how Merlin met with Arthur.

CHAPTER XXI. How Ulfius impeached Queen Igraine, Arthur's mother, of treason; and how a knight came and desired to have the death of his master

CHAPTER XXII. How Griflet was made knight, and jousted with a knight

CHAPTER XXIII. How twelve knights came from Rome and asked truage for this land of Arthur, and how Arthur fought with a knight.

CHAPTER XXIV. How Merlin saved Arthur's life, and threw an enchantment on King Pellinore and made him to sleep.

CHAPTER XXV. How Arthur by the mean of Merlin gat Excalibur his sword of the Lady of the Lake.

CHAPTER XXVI. How tidings came to Arthur that King Rience had overcome eleven kings, and how he desired Arthur's beard to trim his mantle.

CHAPTER XXVII. How all the children were sent for that were born on May- day, and how Mordred was saved.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER I. Of a damosel which came girt with a sword for to find a man of such virtue to draw it out of the scabbard.

CHAPTER II. How Balin, arrayed like a poor knight, pulled out the sword, which afterward was the cause of his death.

CHAPTER III. How the Lady of the Lake demanded the knight's head that had won the sword, or the maiden's head.

CHAPTER IV. How Merlin told the adventure of this damosel.

CHAPTER V. How Balin was pursued by Sir Lanceor, knight of Ireland, and how he jousted and slew him.

CHAPTER VI. How a damosel, which was love to Lanceor, slew herself for love, and how Balin met with his brother Balan.

CHAPTER VII. How a dwarf reproved Balin for the death of Lanceor, and how King Mark of Cornwall found them, and made a tomb over them.

CHAPTER VIII. How Merlin prophesied that two the best knights of the world should fight there, which were Sir Lancelot and Sir Tristram.

CHAPTER IX. How Balin and his brother, by the counsel of Merlin, took King Rience and brought him to King Arthur.

CHAPTER X. How King Arthur had a battle against Nero and King Lot of Orkney, and how King Lot was deceived by Merlin, and how twelve kings were slain.

CHAPTER XI. Of the interment of twelve kings, and of the prophecy of Merlin, and how Balin should give the dolorous stroke.

CHAPTER XII. How a sorrowful knight came before Arthur, and how Balin fetched him, and how that knight was slain by a knight invisible.

CHAPTER XIII. How Balin and the damosel met with a knight which was in likewise slain, and how the damosel bled for the custom of a castle.

CHAPTER XIV. How Balin met with that knight named Garlon at a feast, and there he slew him, to have his blood to heal therewith the son of his host.

CHAPTER XV. How Balin fought with King Pellam, and how his sword brake, and how he gat a spear wherewith he smote the dolorous stroke.

CHAPTER XVI. How Balin was delivered by Merlin, and saved a knight that would have slain himself for love.

CHAPTER XVII. How that knight slew his love and a knight lying by her, and after, how he slew himself with his own sword, and how Balin rode toward a

CHAPTER XVIII. How Balin met with his brother Balan, and how each of them slew other unknown, till they were wounded to death.

CHAPTER XIX. How Merlin buried them both in one tomb, and of Balin's sword.

BOOK III.

CHAPTER I. How King Arthur took a wife, and wedded Guenever, daughter to Leodegrance, King of the Land of Cameliard, with whom he had the Round Table.

CHAPTER II. How the Knights of the Round Table were ordained and their sieges blessed by the Bishop of Canterbury.

CHAPTER III. How a poor man riding upon a lean mare desired King Arthur to make his son knight.

CHAPTER IV. How Sir Tor was known for son of King Pellinore, and how Gawaine was made knight.

CHAPTER V. How at feast of the wedding of King Arthur to Guenever, a white hart came into the hall, and thirty couple hounds, and how a brachet

CHAPTER VI. How Sir Gawaine rode for to fetch again the hart, and how two brethren fought each against other for the hart.

CHAPTER VII How the hart was chased into a castle and there slain, and how Sir Gawaine slew a lady.

CHAPTER VIII. How four knights fought against Gawaine and Gaheris, and how they were overcome, and their lives saved at request of four ladies.

CHAPTER IX. How Sir Tor rode after the knight with the brachet, and of his adventure by the way.

CHAPTER X. How Sir Tor found the brachet with a lady, and how a knight assailed him for the said brachet.

CHAPTER XI. How Sir Tor overcame the knight, and how he lost his head at the request of a lady.

CHAPTER XII. How King Pellinore rode after the lady and the knight that led her away, and how a lady desired help of him, and how he fought with two

CHAPTER XIII. How King Pellinore gat the lady and brought her to Camelot to the court of King Arthur.

CHAPTER XIV. How on the way he heard two knights, as he lay by night in a valley, and of their adventures.

CHAPTER XV. How when he was come to Camelot he was sworn upon a book to tell the truth of his quest.

BOOK IV.

CHAPTER I. How Merlin was assotted and doted on one of the ladies of the lake, and how he was shut in a rock under a stone and there died.

CHAPTER II. How five kings came into this land to war against King Arthur, and what counsel Arthur had against them.

CHAPTER III. How King Arthur had ado with them and overthrew them, and slew the five kings and made the remnant to flee.

CHAPTER IV. How the battle was finished or he came, and how King Arthur founded an abbey where the battle was.

CHAPTER V. How Sir Tor was made knight of the Round Table, and how Bagdemagus was displeased.

CHAPTER VI. How King Arthur, King Uriens, and Sir Accolon of Gaul, chased an hart, and of their marvellous adventures.

CHAPTER VII. How Arthur took upon him to fight to be delivered out of prison, and also for to deliver twenty knights that were in prison.

CHAPTER VIII. How Accolon found himself by a well, and he took upon him to do battle against Arthur.

CHAPTER IX. Of the battle between King Arthur and Accolon.

CHAPTER X. How King Arthur's sword that he fought with brake, and how he recovered of Accolon his own sword Excalibur, and overcame his enemy.

CHAPTER XI. How Accolon confessed the treason of Morgan le Fay, King Arthur's sister, and how she would have done slay him.

CHAPTER XII. How Arthur accorded the two brethren, and delivered the twenty knights, and how Sir Accolon died.

CHAPTER XIII. How Morgan would have slain Sir Uriens her husband, and how Sir Uwaine her son saved him.

CHAPTER XIV. How Queen Morgan le Fay made great sorrow for the death of Accolon, and how she stole away the scabbard from Arthur.

CHAPTER XV. How Morgan le Fay saved a knight that should have been drowned, and how King Arthur returned home again.

CHAPTER XVI. How the Damosel of the Lake saved King Arthur from mantle that should have burnt him.

CHAPTER XVII. How Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine met with twelve fair damosels, and how they complained on Sir Marhaus.

CHAPTER XVIII. How Sir Marhaus jousted with Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine, and overthrew them both.

CHAPTER XIX. How Sir Marhaus, Sir Gawaine, and Sir Uwaine met three damosels, and each of them took one.[*1]

CHAPTER XX. How a knight and a dwarf strove for a lady.

CHAPTER XXI. How King Pelleas suffered himself to be taken prisoner because he would have a sight of his lady, and how Sir Gawaine promised him to get

CHAPTER XXII. How Sir Gawaine came to the Lady Ettard, and how Sir Pelleas found them sleeping.

CHAPTER XXIII. How Sir Pelleas loved no more Ettard by means of the Damosel of the Lake, whom he loved ever after.

CHAPTER XXIV. How Sir Marhaus rode with the damosel, and how he came to the Duke of the South Marches.

CHAPTER XXV. How Sir Marhaus fought with the duke and his four sons and made them to yield them.

CHAPTER XXVI. How Sir Uwaine rode with the damosel of sixty year of age, and how he gat the prize at tourneying.

CHAPTER XXVII. How Sir Uwaine fought with two knights and overcame them.

CHAPTER XXVIII. How at the year's end all three knights with their three damosels met at the fountain.

BOOK V.

CHAPTER I. How twelve aged ambassadors of Rome came to King Arthur to demand truage for Britain.

CHAPTER II. How the kings and lords promised to King Arthur aid and help against the Romans.

CHAPTER III. How King Arthur held a parliament at York, and how he ordained the realm should be governed in his absence.

CHAPTER IV. How King Arthur being shipped and lying in his cabin had a marvellous dream and of the exposition thereof.

CHAPTER V. How a man of the country told to him of a marvellous giant, and how he fought and conquered him.

CHAPTER VI. How King Arthur sent Sir Gawaine and other to Lucius, and how they were assailed and escaped with worship.

CHAPTER VII. How Lucius sent certain spies in a bushment for to have taken his knights being prisoners, and how they were letted.

CHAPTER VIII. How a senator told to Lucius of their discomfiture, and also of the great battle between Arthur and Lucius.

CHAPTER IX How Arthur, after he had achieved the battle against the Romans, entered into Almaine, and so into Italy.

CHAPTER X. Of a battle done by Sir Gawaine against a Saracen, which after was yielden and became Christian.

CHAPTER XI. How the Saracens came out of a wood for to rescue their beasts, and of a great battle.

CHAPTER XII. How Sir Gawaine returned to King Arthur with his prisoners, and how the King won a city, and how he was crowned Emperor.

BOOK VI.

CHAPTER I. How Sir Launcelot and Sir Lionel departed from the court, and how Sir Lionel left him sleeping and was taken.

CHAPTER II. How Sir Ector followed for to seek Sir Launcelot, and how he was taken by Sir Turquine.

CHAPTER III How four queens found Launcelot sleeping, and how by enchantment he was taken and led into a castle.

CHAPTER IV. How Sir Launcelot was delivered by the mean of a damosel.

CHAPTER V. How a knight found Sir Launcelot lying in his leman's bed, and how Sir Launcelot fought with the knight.

CHAPTER VI. How Sir Launcelot was received of King Bagdemagus' daughter, and how he made his complaint to her father.

CHAPTER VII. How Sir Launcelot behaved him in a tournament, and how he met with Sir Turquine leading Sir Gaheris.

CHAPTER VIII. How Sir Launcelot and Sir Turquine fought together.

CHAPTER IX. How Sir Turquine was slain, and how Sir Launcelot bade Sir Gaheris deliver all the prisoners.

CHAPTER X. How Sir Launcelot rode with a damosel and slew a knight that distressed all ladies and also a villain that kept a bridge.

CHAPTER XI. How Sir Launcelot slew two giants, and made a castle free.

CHAPTER XII. How Sir Launcelot rode disguised in Sir Kay's harness, and how he smote down a knight.

CHAPTER XIII. How Sir Launcelot jousted against four knights of the Round Table and overthrew them.

CHAPTER XIV. How Sir Launcelot followed a brachet into a castle, where he found a dead knight, and how he after was required of a damosel to heal her

CHAPTER XV. How Sir Launcelot came into the Chapel Perilous and gat there of a dead corpse a piece of the cloth and a sword.

CHAPTER XVI. How Sir Launcelot at the request of a lady recovered a falcon, by which he was deceived.

CHAPTER XVII. How Sir Launcelot overtook a knight which chased his wife to have slain her, and how he said to him.

CHAPTER XVIII. How Sir Launcelot came to King Arthur's Court, and how there were recounted all his noble feats and acts.

BOOK VII.

CHAPTER I. How Beaumains came to King Arthur's Court and demanded three petitions of King Arthur.

CHAPTER II. How Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawaine were wroth because Sir Kay mocked Beaumains, and of a damosel which desired a knight to fight for a

CHAPTER III. How Beaumains desired the battle, and how it was granted to him, and how he desired to be made knight of Sir Launcelot.

CHAPTER IV. How Beaumains departed, and how he gat of Sir Kay a spear and a shield, and how he jousted with Sir Launcelot.

CHAPTER V. How Beaumains told to Sir Launcelot his name, and how he was dubbed knight of Sir Launcelot, and after overtook the damosel.

CHAPTER VI. How Beaumains fought and slew two knights at a passage.

CHAPTER VII. How Beaumains fought with the Knight of the Black Launds, and fought with him till he fell down and died.

CHAPTER VIII. How the brother of the knight that was slain met with Beaumains, and fought with Beaumains till he was yielden.

CHAPTER IX. How the damosel again rebuked Beaumains, and would not suffer him to sit at her table, but called him kitchen boy.

CHAPTER X. How the third brother, called the Red Knight, jousted and fought against Beaumains, and how Beaumains overcame him.

CHAPTER XI. How Sir Beaumains suffered great rebukes of the damosel, and he suffered it patiently.

CHAPTER XII. How Beaumains fought with Sir Persant of Inde, and made him to be yielden.

CHAPTER XIII. Of the goodly communication between Sir Persant and Beaumains, and how he told him that his name was Sir Gareth.

CHAPTER XIV. How the lady that was besieged had word from her sister how she had brought a knight to fight for her, and what battles he had achieved.

CHAPTER XV. How the damosel and Beaumains came to the siege; and came to a sycamore tree, and there Beaumains blew a horn, and then the Knight of the

CHAPTER XVI. How the two knights met together, and of their talking, and how they began their battle.

CHAPTER XVII. How after long fighting Beaumains overcame the knight and would have slain him, but at the request of the lords he saved his life, and

CHAPTER XVIII. How the knight yielded him, and how Beaumains made him to go unto King Arthur's court, and to cry Sir Launcelot mercy.

CHAPTER XIX How Beaumains came to the lady, and when he came to the castle the gates were closed against him, and of the words that the lady said to

CHAPTER XX. How Sir Beaumains rode after to rescue his dwarf, and came into the castle where he was.

CHAPTER XXI. How Sir Gareth, otherwise called Beaumains, came to the presence of his lady, and how they took acquaintance, and of their love.

CHAPTER XXII. How at night came an armed knight, and fought with Sir Gareth, and he, sore hurt in the thigh, smote off the knight's head.

CHAPTER XXIII. How the said knight came again the next night and was beheaded again, and how at the feast of Pentecost all the knights that Sir Gareth

CHAPTER XXIV. How King Arthur pardoned them, and demanded of them where Sir Gareth was.

CHAPTER XXV. How the Queen of Orkney came to this feast of Pentecost, and Sir Gawaine and his brethren came to ask her blessing. [*3]

CHAPTER XXVI. How King Arthur sent for the Lady Lionesse, and how she let cry a tourney at her castle, whereas came many knights.

CHAPTER XXVII. How King Arthur went to the tournament with his knights, and how the lady received him worshipfully, and how the knights encountered.

CHAPTER XXVIII. How the knights bare them in the battle.

CHAPTER XXIX. Yet of the said tournament.

CHAPTER XXX. How Sir Gareth was espied by the heralds, and how he escaped out of the field.

CHAPTER XXXI. How Sir Gareth came to a castle where he was well lodged, and he jousted with a knight and slew him.

CHAPTER XXXII. How Sir Gareth fought with a knight that held within his castle thirty ladies, and how he slew him.

CHAPTER XXXIII. How Sir Gareth and Sir Gawaine fought each against other, and how they knew each other by the damosel Linet.

CHAPTER XXXIV. How Sir Gareth acknowledged that they loved each other to King Arthur, and of the appointment of their wedding.

CHAPTER XXXV. Of the Great Royalty, and what officers were made at the feast of the wedding, and of the jousts at the feast.

BOOK VIII

CHAPTER I. How Sir Tristram de Liones was born, and how his mother died at his birth, wherefore she named him Tristram.

CHAPTER II. How the stepmother of Sir Tristram had ordained poison for to have poisoned Sir Tristram.

CHAPTER III. How Sir Tristram was sent into France, and had one to govern him named Gouvernail, and how he learned to harp, hawk, and hunt.

CHAPTER IV. How Sir Marhaus came out of Ireland for to ask truage of Cornwall, or else he would fight therefore.

CHAPTER V. How Tristram enterprized the battle to fight for the truage of Cornwall, and how he was made knight.

CHAPTER VI. How Sir Tristram arrived into the Island for to furnish the battle with Sir Marhaus.

CHAPTER VII. How Sir Tristram fought against Sir Marhaus and achieved his battle, and how Sir Marhaus fled to his ship.

CHAPTER VIII. How Sir Marhaus after that he was arrived in Ireland died of the stroke that Sir Tristram had given him, and how Tristram was hurt.

CHAPTER IX. How Sir Tristram was put to the keeping of La Beale Isoud first for to be healed of his wound.

CHAPTER X. How Sir Tristram won the degree at a tournament in Ireland, and there made Palamides to bear no more harness in a year.

CHAPTER XI. How the queen espied that Sir Tristram had slain her brother Sir Marhaus by his sword, and in what jeopardy he was.

CHAPTER XII. How Sir Tristram departed from the king and La Beale Isoud out of Ireland for to come into Cornwall.

CHAPTER XIII. How Sir Tristram and King Mark hurted each other for the love of a knight's wife.

CHAPTER XIV. How Sir Tristram lay with the lady, and how her husband fought with Sir Tristram.

CHAPTER XV. How Sir Bleoberis demanded the fairest lady in King Mark's court, whom he took away, and how he was fought with.

CHAPTER XVI. How Sir Tristram fought with two knights of the Round Table.

CHAPTER XVII. How Sir Tristram fought with Sir Bleoberis for a lady, and how the lady was put to choice to whom she would go.

CHAPTER XVIII. How the lady forsook Sir Tristram and abode with Sir Bleoberis, and how she desired to go to her husband.

CHAPTER XIX. How King Mark sent Sir Tristram for La Beale Isoud toward Ireland, and how by fortune he arrived into England.

CHAPTER XX. How King Anguish of Ireland was summoned to come to King Arthur's court for treason.

CHAPTER XXI. How Sir Tristram rescued a child from a knight, and how Gouvernail told him of King Anguish.

CHAPTER XXII. How Sir Tristram fought for Sir Anguish and overcame his adversary, and how his adversary would never yield him.

CHAPTER XXIII. How Sir Blamore desired Tristram to slay him, and how Sir Tristram spared him, and how they took appointment.

CHAPTER XXIV. How Sir Tristram demanded La Beale Isoud for King Mark, and how Sir Tristram and Isoud drank the love drink.

CHAPTER XXV. How Sir Tristram and Isoud were in prison, and how he fought for her beauty, and smote of another lady's head.

CHAPTER XXVI. How Sir Tristram fought with Sir Breunor, and at the last smote off his head.

CHAPTER XXVII. How Sir Galahad fought with Sir Tristram, and how Sir Tristram yielded him and promised to fellowship with Launcelot.

CHAPTER XXVIII. How Sir Launcelot met with Sir Carados bearing away Sir Gawaine, and of the rescue of Sir Gawaine.

CHAPTER XXIX. Of the wedding of King Mark to La Beale Isoud, and of Bragwaine her maid, and of Palamides.

CHAPTER XXX. How Palamides demanded Queen Isoud, and how Lambegus rode after to rescue her, and of the escape of Isoud.

CHAPTER XXXI. How Sir Tristram rode after Palamides, and how he found him and fought with him, and by the means of Isoud the battle ceased.

CHAPTER XXXII. How Sir Tristram brought Queen Isoud home, and of the debate of King Mark and Sir Tristram.

CHAPTER XXXIII. How Sir Lamorak jousted with thirty knights, and Sir Tristram at the request of King Mark smote his horse down.

CHAPTER XXXIV. How Sir Lamorak sent an horn to King Mark in despite of Sir Tristram, and how Sir Tristram was driven into a chapel.

CHAPTER XXXV. How Sir Tristram was holpen by his men, and of Queen Isoud which was put in a lazar-cote, and how Tristram was hurt.

CHAPTER XXXVI. How Sir Tristram served in war King Howel of Brittany, and slew his adversary in the field.

CHAPTER XXXVII. How Sir Suppinabiles told Sir Tristram how he was defamed in the court of King Arthur, and of Sir Lamorak.

CHAPTER XXXVIII. How Sir Tristram and his wife arrived in Wales, and how he met there with Sir Lamorak.

CHAPTER XXXIX. How Sir Tristram fought with Sir Nabon, and overcame him, and made Sir Segwarides lord of the isle.

CHAPTER XL

CHAPTER XLI. How Sir Lamorak slew Sir Frol, and of the courteous fighting with Sir Belliance his brother.

BOOK IX.

CHAPTER I. How a young man came into the court of King Arthur, and how Sir Kay called him in scorn La Cote Male Taile.

CHAPTER II. How a damosel came into the court and desired a knight to take on him an enquest, which La Cote Male Taile emprised.

CHAPTER III. How La Cote Male Taile overthrew Sir Dagonet the king's fool, and of the rebuke that he had of the damosel.

CHAPTER IV. How La Cote Male Taile fought against an hundred knights, and how he escaped by the mean of a lady.

CHAPTER V. How Sir Launcelot came to the court and heard of La Cote Male Taile, and how he followed after him, and how La Cote Male Taile was

CHAPTER VI. How Sir Launcelot fought with six knights, and after with Sir Brian, and how he delivered the prisoners.

CHAPTER VII. How Sir Launcelot met with the damosel named Male disant, and named her the Damosel Bienpensant.

CHAPTER VIII. How La Cote Male Taile was taken prisoner, and after rescued by Sir Launcelot, and how Sir Launcelot overcame four brethren.

CHAPTER IX. How Sir Launcelot made La Cote Male Taile lord of the Castle of Pendragon, and after was made knight of the Round Table.

CHAPTER X. How La Beale Isoud sent letters to Sir Tristram by her maid Bragwaine, and of divers adventures of Sir Tristram.

CHAPTER XI. How Sir Tristram met with Sir Lamorak de Galis, and how they fought, and after accorded never to fight together.

CHAPTER XII. How Sir Palomides followed the Questing Beast, and smote down Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak with one spear.

CHAPTER XIII. How Sir Lamorak met with Sir Meliagaunce, and fought together for the beauty of Dame Guenever.

CHAPTER XIV. How Sir Meliagaunce told for what cause they fought, and how Sir Lamorak jousted with King Arthur.

CHAPTER XV. How Sir Kay met with Sir Tristram, and after of the shame spoken of the knights of Cornwall, and how they jousted.

CHAPTER XVI. How King Arthur was brought into the Forest Perilous, and how Sir Tristram saved his life.

CHAPTER XVII. How Sir Tristram came to La Beale Isoud, and how Kehydius began to love Beale Isoud, and of a letter that Tristram found.

CHAPTER XIX. How Sir Tristram soused Dagonet in a well, and how Palomides sent a damosel to seek Tristram, and how Palomides met with King Mark.

CHAPTER XX. How it was noised how Sir Tristram was dead, and how La Beale Isoud would have slain herself.

CHAPTER XXI. How King Mark found Sir Tristram naked, and made him to be borne home to Tintagil, and how he was there known by a brachet.

CHAPTER XXII. How King Mark, by the advice of his council, banished Sir Tristram out of Cornwall the term of ten years.

CHAPTER XXIII. How a damosel sought help to help Sir Launcelot against thirty knights, and how Sir Tristram fought with them.

CHAPTER XXIV. How Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan came to a lodging where they must joust with two knights.

CHAPTER XXV. How Sir Tristram jousted with Sir Kay and Sir Sagramore le Desirous, and how Sir Gawaine turned Sir Tristram from Morgan le Fay.

CHAPTER XXVI. How Sir Tristram and Sir Gawaine rode to have foughten with the thirty knights, but they durst not come out.

CHAPTER XXVII. How damosel Bragwaine found Tristram sleeping by a well, and how she delivered letters to him from La Beale Isoud.

CHAPTER XXVIII. How Sir Tristram had a fall with Sir Palomides, and how Launcelot overthrew two knights.

CHAPTER XXIX. How Sir Launcelot jousted with Palomides and overthrew him, and after he was assailed with twelve knights.

CHAPTER XXX. How Sir Tristram behaved him the first day of the tournament, and there he had the prize.

CHAPTER XXXI. How Sir Tristram returned against King Arthur's party because he saw Sir Palomides on that party.

CHAPTER XXXII. How Sir Tristram found Palomides by a well, and brought him with him to his lodging.

CHAPTER XXXIII. How Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palomides, and how he jousted with King Arthur, and other feats.

CHAPTER XXXIV. How Sir Launcelot hurt Sir Tristram, and how after Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palomides.

CHAPTER XXXV. How the prize of the third day was given to Sir Launcelot, and Sir Launcelot gave it to Sir Tristram.

CHAPTER XXXVI. How Palomides came to the castle where Sir Tristram was, and of the quest that Sir Launcelot and ten knights made for Sir Tristram.

CHAPTER XXXVII. How Sir Tristram, Sir Palomides, and Sir Dinadan were taken and put in prison.

CHAPTER XXXVIII. How King Mark was sorry for the good renown of Sir Tristram. Some of King Arthur's knights jousted with knights of Cornwall.

CHAPTER XXXIX. Of the treason of King Mark, and how Sir Gaheris smote him down and Andred his cousin.

CHAPTER XL. How after that Sir Tristram, Sir Palomides, and Sir Dinadan had been long in prison they were delivered.

CHAPTER XLI. How Sir Dinadan rescued a lady from Sir Breuse Saunce Pite, and how Sir Tristram received a shield of Morgan le Fay.

CHAPTER XLII. How Sir Tristram took with him the shield, and also how he slew the paramour of Morgan le Fay.

CHAPTER XLIII. How Morgan le Fay buried her paramour, and how Sir Tristram praised Sir Launcelot and his kin.

CHAPTER XLIV. How Sir Tristram at a tournament bare the shield that Morgan le Fay delivered to him.



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

THE Morte D'Arthur was finished, as the epilogue tells us, in the ninth year of Edward IV., i.e. between March 4, 1469 and the same date in 1470. It is thus, fitly enough, the last important English book written before the introduction of printing into this country, and since no manuscript of it has come down to us it is also the first English classic for our knowledge of which we are entirely dependent on a printed text. Caxton's story of how the book was brought to him and he was induced to print it may be read farther on in his own preface. From this we learn also that he was not only the printer of the book, but to some extent its editor also, dividing Malory's work into twenty-one books, splitting up the books into chapters, by no means skilfully, and supplying the "Rubrish" or chapter-headings. It may be added that Caxton's preface contains, moreover, a brief criticism which, on the points on which it touches, is still the soundest and most sympathetic that has been written.

Caxton finished his edition the last day of July 1485, some fifteen or sixteen years after Malory wrote his epilogue. It is clear that the author was then dead, or the printer would not have acted as a clumsy editor to the book, and recent discoveries (if bibliography may, for the moment, enlarge its bounds to mention such matters) have revealed with tolerable certainty when Malory died and who he was. In letters to The Athenaeum in July 1896 Mr. T. Williams pointed out that the name of a Sir Thomas Malorie occurred among those of a number of other Lancastrians excluded from a general pardon granted by Edward IV. in 1468, and that a William Mallerye was mentioned in the same year as taking part in a Lancastrian rising. In September 1897, again, in another letter to the same paper, Mr. A. T. Martin reported the finding of the will of a Thomas Malory of Papworth, a hundred partly in Cambridgeshire, partly in Hunts. This will was made on September 16, 1469, and as it was proved the 27th of the next month the testator must have been in immediate expectation of death. It contains the most careful provision for the education and starting in life of a family of three daughters and seven sons, of whom the youngest seems to have been still an infant. We cannot say with certainty that this Thomas Malory, whose last thoughts were so busy for his children, was our author, or that the Lancastrian knight discovered by Mr. Williams was identical with either or both, but such evidence as the Morte D'Arthur offers favours such a belief. There is not only the epilogue with its petition, "pray for me while I am alive that God send me good deliverance and when I am dead pray you all for my soul," but this very request is foreshadowed at the end of chap. 37 of Book ix. in the touching passage, surely inspired by personal experience, as to the sickness "that is the greatest pain a prisoner may have"; and the reflections on English fickleness in the first chapter of Book xxi., though the Wars of the Roses might have inspired them in any one, come most naturally from an author who was a Lancastrian knight.

If the Morte D'Arthur was really written in prison and by a prisoner distressed by ill-health as well as by lack of liberty, surely no task was ever better devised to while away weary hours. Leaving abundant scope for originality in selection, modification, and arrangement, as a compilation and translation it had in it that mechanical element which adds the touch of restfulness to literary work. No original, it is said, has yet been found for Book vii., and it is possible that none will ever be forthcoming for chap. 20 of Book xviii., which describes the arrival of the body of the Fair Maiden of Astolat at Arthur's court, or vii for chap. 25 of the same book, with its discourse on true love; but the great bulk of the work has been traced chapter by chapter to the "Merlin" of Robert de Borron and his successors (Bks. i.-iv.), the English metrical romance La Morte Arthur of the Thornton manuscript (Bk. v.), the French romances of Tristan (Bks. viii.-x.) and of Launcelot (Bks. vi., xi.-xix.), and lastly to the English prose Morte Arthur of Harley MS. 2252 (Bks. xviii., xx., xxi.). As to Malory's choice of his authorities critics have not failed to point out that now and again he gives a worse version where a better has come down to us, and if he had been able to order a complete set of Arthurian manuscripts from his bookseller, no doubt he would have done even better than he did! But of the skill, approaching to original genius, with which he used the books from which he worked there is little dispute.

Malory died leaving his work obviously unrevised, and in this condition it was brought to Caxton, who prepared it for the press with his usual enthusiasm in the cause of good literature, and also, it must be added, with his usual carelessness. New chapters are sometimes made to begin in the middle of a sentence, and in addition to simple misprints there are numerous passages in which it is impossible to believe that we have the text as Malory intended it to stand. After Caxton's edition Malory's manuscript must have disappeared, and subsequent editions are differentiated only by the degree of closeness with which they follow the first. Editions appeared printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1498 and 1529, by William Copland in 1559, by Thomas East about 1585, and by Thomas Stansby in 1634, each printer apparently taking the text of his immediate predecessor and reproducing it with modifications. Stansby's edition served for reprints in 1816 and 1856 (the latter edited by Thomas Wright); but in 1817 an edition supervised by Robert Southey went back to Caxton's text, though to a copy (only two are extant, and only one perfect!) in which eleven leaves were supplied from Wynkyn de Worde's reprint. In 1868 Sir Edward Strachey produced for the present publishers a reprint of Southey's text in modern spelling, with the substitution of current words for those now obsolete, and the softening of a handful of passages likely, he thought, to prevent the book being placed in the hands of boys. In 1889 a boon was conferred on scholars by the publication of Dr. H. Oskar Sommer's page-for-page reprint of Caxton's text, with an elaborate discussion of Malory's sources. Dr. Sommer's edition was used by Sir E. Strachey to revise his Globe text, and in 1897 Mr. Israel Gollancz produced for the "Temple Classics" a very pretty edition in which Sir Edward Strachey's principles of modernisation in spelling and punctuation were adopted, but with the restoration of obsolete words and omitted phrases. As to the present edition, Sir Edward Strachey altered with so sparing a hand that on many pages differences between his version and that here printed will be looked for in vain; but the most anxious care has been taken to produce a text modernised as to its spelling, but in other respects in accurate accordance with Caxton's text, as represented by Dr Sommer's reprint. Obvious misprints have been silently corrected, but in a few cases notes show where emendations have been introduced from Wynkyn de Worde—not that Wynkyn had any more right to emend Caxton than we, but because even a printer's conjecture gains a little sanctity after four centuries. The restoration of obsolete words has necessitated a much fuller glossary, and the index of names has therefore been separated from it and enlarged. In its present form the index is the work of Mr. Henry Littlehales.

A. W. POLLARD.



PREFACE OF WILLIAM CAXTON

AFTER that I had accomplished and finished divers histories, as well of contemplation as of other historial and worldly acts of great conquerors and princes, and also certain books of ensamples and doctrine, many noble and divers gentlemen of this realm of England came and demanded me many and oft times, wherefore that I have not do made and imprint the noble history of the Saint Greal, and of the most renowned Christian king, first and chief of the three best Christian, and worthy, King Arthur, which ought most to be remembered among us Englishmen to-fore all other Christian kings; for it is notoyrly known through the universal world, that there be nine worthy and the best that ever were, that is to wit, three Paynims, three Jews, and three Christian men. As for the Paynims, they were to-fore the Incarnation of Christ, which were named, the first Hector of Troy, of whom the history is comen both in ballad and in prose, the second Alexander the Great, and the third Julius Caesar, Emperor of Rome, of whom the histories be well known and had. And as for the three Jews, which also were to-fore the incarnation of our Lord, of whom the first was duke Joshua which brought the children of Israel into the land of behest, the second David king of Jerusalem, and the third Judas Machabeus, of these three the Bible rehearseth all their noble histories and acts. And since the said Incarnation have been three noble Christian men, stalled and admitted through the universal world into the number of the nine best and worthy. Of whom was first the noble Arthur, whose noble acts I purpose to write in this present book here following. The second was Charlemain, or Charles the Great, of whom the history is had in many places, both in French and in English. And the third and last was Godfrey of Boloine, of whose acts and life I made a book unto the excellent prince and king of noble memory, King Edward the Fourth.

The said noble gentlemen instantly required me to imprint the history of the said noble king and conqueror King Arthur, and of his knights, with the history of the Saint Greal, and of the death and ending of the said Arthur; affirming that I ought rather to imprint his acts and noble feats, than of Godfrey of Boloine, or any of the other eight, considering that he was a man born within this realm, and king and emperor of the same: and that there be in French divers and many noble volumes of his acts, and also of his knights. To whom I answered that divers men hold opinion that there was no such Arthur, and that all such books as been made of him be feigned and fables, because that some chronicles make of him no mention, nor remember him nothing, nor of his knights. Whereto they answered, and one in special said, that in him that should say or think that there was never such a king called Arthur might well be aretted great folly and blindness. For he said that there were many evidences of the contrary. First ye may see his sepulchre in the monastery of Glastonbury. And also in Policronicon, in the fifth book the sixth chapter, and in the seventh book the twenty-third chapter, where his body was buried, and after found, and translated into the said monastery. Ye shall see also in the history of Bochas, in his book De Casu Principum, part of his noble acts, and also of his fall. Also Galfridus in his British book recounteth his life: and in divers places of England many remembrances be yet of him, and shall remain perpetually, and also of his knights. First in the abbey of Westminster, at St. Edward's shrine, remaineth the print of his seal in red wax closed in beryl, in which is written, Patricius Arthurus Britannie, Gallie, Germanie, Dacie, Imperator. Item in the castle of Dover ye may see Gawaine's skull, and Cradok's mantle: at Winchester the Round Table: in other places Launcelot's sword and many other things. Then all these things considered, there can no man reasonably gainsay but there was a king of this land named Arthur. For in all places, Christian and heathen, he is reputed and taken for one of the nine worthy, and the first of the three Christian men. And also, he is more spoken of beyond the sea, more books made of his noble acts, than there be in England, as well in Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and Greekish, as in French. And yet of record remain in witness of him in Wales, in the town of Camelot, the great stones and the marvellous works of iron lying under the ground, and royal vaults, which divers now living have seen. Wherefore it is a marvel why he is no more renowned in his own country, save only it accordeth to the Word of God, which saith that no man is accepted for a prophet in his own country.

Then all these things aforesaid alleged, I could not well deny but that there was such a noble king named Arthur, and reputed one of the nine worthy, and first and chief of the Christian men. And many noble volumes be made of him and of his noble knights in French, which I have seen and read beyond the sea, which be not had in our maternal tongue. But in Welsh be many and also in French, and some in English but nowhere nigh all. Wherefore, such as have late been drawn out briefly into English I have after the simple conning that God hath sent to me, under the favour and correction of all noble lords and gentlemen, enprised to imprint a book of the noble histories of the said King Arthur, and of certain of his knights, after a copy unto me delivered, which copy Sir Thomas Malorye did take out of certain books of French, and reduced it into English. And I, according to my copy, have done set it in imprint, to the intent that noble men may see and learn the noble acts of chivalry, the gentle and virtuous deeds that some knights used in those days, by which they came to honour, and how they that were vicious were punished and oft put to shame and rebuke; humbly beseeching all noble lords and ladies, with all other estates of what estate or degree they been of, that shall see and read in this said book and work, that they take the good and honest acts in their remembrance, and to follow the same. Wherein they shall find many joyous and pleasant histories, and noble and renowned acts of humanity, gentleness, and chivalry. For herein may be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardiness, love, friendship, cowardice, murder, hate, virtue, and sin. Do after the good and leave the evil, and it shall bring you to good fame and renown. And for to pass the time this book shall be pleasant to read in, but for to give faith and belief that all is true that is contained herein, ye be at your liberty: but all is written for our doctrine, and for to beware that we fall not to vice nor sin, but to exercise and follow virtue, by which we may come and attain to good fame and renown in this life, and after this short and transitory life to come unto everlasting bliss in heaven; the which He grant us that reigneth in heaven, the blessed Trinity. Amen.

Then to proceed forth in this said book, which I direct unto all noble princes, lords and ladies, gentlemen or gentlewomen, that desire to read or hear read of the noble and joyous history of the great conqueror and excellent king, King Arthur, sometime king of this noble realm, then called Britain; I, William Caxton, simple person, present this book following, which I have enprised to imprint: and treateth of the noble acts, feats of arms of chivalry, prowess, hardiness, humanity, love, courtesy, and very gentleness, with many wonderful histories and adventures. And for to understand briefly the content of this volume, I have divided it into XXI Books, and every book chaptered, as hereafter shall by God's grace follow. The First Book shall treat how Uther Pendragon gat the noble conqueror King Arthur, and containeth xxviii chapters. The Second Book treateth of Balin the noble knight, and containeth xix chapters. The Third Book treateth of the marriage of King Arthur to Queen Guenever, with other matters, and containeth xv chapters. The Fourth Book, how Merlin was assotted, and of war made to King Arthur, and containeth xxix chapters. The Fifth Book treateth of the conquest of Lucius the emperor, and containeth xii chapters. The Sixth Book treateth of Sir Launcelot and Sir Lionel, and marvellous adventures, and containeth xviii chapters. The Seventh Book treateth of a noble knight called Sir Gareth, and named by Sir Kay Beaumains, and containeth xxxvi chapters. The Eighth Book treateth of the birth of Sir Tristram the noble knight, and of his acts, and containeth xli chapters. The Ninth Book treateth of a knight named by Sir Kay Le Cote Male Taille, and also of Sir Tristram, and containeth xliv chapters. The Tenth Book treateth of Sir Tristram, and other marvellous adventures, and containeth lxxxviii chapters. The Eleventh Book treateth of Sir Launcelot and Sir Galahad, and containeth xiv chapters. The Twelfth Book treateth of Sir Launcelot and his madness, and containeth xiv chapters. The Thirteenth Book treateth how Galahad came first to king Arthur's court, and the quest how the Sangreal was begun, and containeth xx chapters. The Fourteenth Book treateth of the quest of the Sangreal, and containeth x chapters. The Fifteenth Book treateth of Sir Launcelot, and containeth vi chapters. The Sixteenth Book treateth of Sir Bors and Sir Lionel his brother, and containeth xvii chapters. The Seventeenth Book treateth of the Sangreal, and containeth xxiii chapters. The Eighteenth Book treateth of Sir Launcelot and the queen, and containeth xxv chapters. The Nineteenth Book treateth of Queen Guenever and Launcelot, and containeth xiii chapters. The Twentieth Book treateth of the piteous death of Arthur, and containeth xxii chapters. The Twenty-first Book treateth of his last departing, and how Sir Launcelot came to revenge his death, and containeth xiii chapters. The sum is twenty-one books, which contain the sum of five hundred and seven chapters, as more plainly shall follow hereafter.



BOOK I



CHAPTER I. How Uther Pendragon sent for the duke of Cornwall and Igraine his wife, and of their departing suddenly again.

IT befell in the days of Uther Pendragon, when he was king of all England, and so reigned, that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall that held war against him long time. And the duke was called the Duke of Tintagil. And so by means King Uther sent for this duke, charging him to bring his wife with him, for she was called a fair lady, and a passing wise, and her name was called Igraine.

So when the duke and his wife were come unto the king, by the means of great lords they were accorded both. The king liked and loved this lady well, and he made them great cheer out of measure, and desired to have lain by her. But she was a passing good woman, and would not assent unto the king. And then she told the duke her husband, and said, I suppose that we were sent for that I should be dishonoured; wherefore, husband, I counsel you, that we depart from hence suddenly, that we may ride all night unto our own castle. And in like wise as she said so they departed, that neither the king nor none of his council were ware of their departing. All so soon as King Uther knew of their departing so suddenly, he was wonderly wroth. Then he called to him his privy council, and told them of the sudden departing of the duke and his wife.

Then they advised the king to send for the duke and his wife by a great charge; and if he will not come at your summons, then may ye do your best, then have ye cause to make mighty war upon him. So that was done, and the messengers had their answers; and that was this shortly, that neither he nor his wife would not come at him.

Then was the king wonderly wroth. And then the king sent him plain word again, and bade him be ready and stuff him and garnish him, for within forty days he would fetch him out of the biggest castle that he hath.

When the duke had this warning, anon he went and furnished and garnished two strong castles of his, of the which the one hight Tintagil, and the other castle hight Terrabil. So his wife Dame Igraine he put in the castle of Tintagil, and himself he put in the castle of Terrabil, the which had many issues and posterns out. Then in all haste came Uther with a great host, and laid a siege about the castle of Terrabil. And there he pight many pavilions, and there was great war made on both parties, and much people slain. Then for pure anger and for great love of fair Igraine the king Uther fell sick. So came to the king Uther Sir Ulfius, a noble knight, and asked the king why he was sick. I shall tell thee, said the king, I am sick for anger and for love of fair Igraine, that I may not be whole. Well, my lord, said Sir Ulfius, I shall seek Merlin, and he shall do you remedy, that your heart shall be pleased. So Ulfius departed, and by adventure he met Merlin in a beggar's array, and there Merlin asked Ulfius whom he sought. And he said he had little ado to tell him. Well, said Merlin, I know whom thou seekest, for thou seekest Merlin; therefore seek no farther, for I am he; and if King Uther will well reward me, and be sworn unto me to fulfil my desire, that shall be his honour and profit more than mine; for I shall cause him to have all his desire. All this will I undertake, said Ulfius, that there shall be nothing reasonable but thou shalt have thy desire. Well, said Merlin, he shall have his intent and desire. And therefore, said Merlin, ride on your way, for I will not be long behind.



CHAPTER II. How Uther Pendragon made war on the duke of Cornwall, and how by the mean of Merlin he lay by the duchess and gat Arthur.

THEN Ulfius was glad, and rode on more than a pace till that he came to King Uther Pendragon, and told him he had met with Merlin. Where is he? said the king. Sir, said Ulfius, he will not dwell long. Therewithal Ulfius was ware where Merlin stood at the porch of the pavilion's door. And then Merlin was bound to come to the king. When King Uther saw him, he said he was welcome. Sir, said Merlin, I know all your heart every deal; so ye will be sworn unto me as ye be a true king anointed, to fulfil my desire, ye shall have your desire. Then the king was sworn upon the Four Evangelists. Sir, said Merlin, this is my desire: the first night that ye shall lie by Igraine ye shall get a child on her, and when that is born, that it shall be delivered to me for to nourish there as I will have it; for it shall be your worship, and the child's avail, as mickle as the child is worth. I will well, said the king, as thou wilt have it. Now make you ready, said Merlin, this night ye shall lie with Igraine in the castle of Tintagil; and ye shall be like the duke her husband, Ulfius shall be like Sir Brastias, a knight of the duke's, and I will be like a knight that hight Sir Jordanus, a knight of the duke's. But wait ye make not many questions with her nor her men, but say ye are diseased, and so hie you to bed, and rise not on the morn till I come to you, for the castle of Tintagil is but ten miles hence; so this was done as they devised. But the duke of Tintagil espied how the king rode from the siege of Terrabil, and therefore that night he issued out of the castle at a postern for to have distressed the king's host. And so, through his own issue, the duke himself was slain or ever the king came at the castle of Tintagil.

So after the death of the duke, King Uther lay with Igraine more than three hours after his death, and begat on her that night Arthur, and on day came Merlin to the king, and bade him make him ready, and so he kissed the lady Igraine and departed in all haste. But when the lady heard tell of the duke her husband, and by all record he was dead or ever King Uther came to her, then she marvelled who that might be that lay with her in likeness of her lord; so she mourned privily and held her peace. Then all the barons by one assent prayed the king of accord betwixt the lady Igraine and him; the king gave them leave, for fain would he have been accorded with her. So the king put all the trust in Ulfius to entreat between them, so by the entreaty at the last the king and she met together. Now will we do well, said Ulfius, our king is a lusty knight and wifeless, and my lady Igraine is a passing fair lady; it were great joy unto us all, an it might please the king to make her his queen. Unto that they all well accorded and moved it to the king. And anon, like a lusty knight, he assented thereto with good will, and so in all haste they were married in a morning with great mirth and joy.

And King Lot of Lothian and of Orkney then wedded Margawse that was Gawaine's mother, and King Nentres of the land of Garlot wedded Elaine. All this was done at the request of King Uther. And the third sister Morgan le Fay was put to school in a nunnery, and there she learned so much that she was a great clerk of necromancy. And after she was wedded to King Uriens of the land of Gore, that was Sir Ewain's le Blanchemain's father.

CHAPTER III. Of the birth of King Arthur and of his nurture.

THEN Queen Igraine waxed daily greater and greater, so it befell after within half a year, as King Uther lay by his queen, he asked her, by the faith she owed to him, whose was the body; then she sore abashed to give answer. Dismay you not, said the king, but tell me the truth, and I shall love you the better, by the faith of my body. Sir, said she, I shall tell you the truth. The same night that my lord was dead, the hour of his death, as his knights record, there came into my castle of Tintagil a man like my lord in speech and in countenance, and two knights with him in likeness of his two knights Brastias and Jordanus, and so I went unto bed with him as I ought to do with my lord, and the same night, as I shall answer unto God, this child was begotten upon me. That is truth, said the king, as ye say; for it was I myself that came in the likeness, and therefore dismay you not, for I am father of the child; and there he told her all the cause, how it was by Merlin's counsel. Then the queen made great joy when she knew who was the father of her child.

Soon came Merlin unto the king, and said, Sir, ye must purvey you for the nourishing of your child. As thou wilt, said the king, be it. Well, said Merlin, I know a lord of yours in this land, that is a passing true man and a faithful, and he shall have the nourishing of your child, and his name is Sir Ector, and he is a lord of fair livelihood in many parts in England and Wales; and this lord, Sir Ector, let him be sent for, for to come and speak with you, and desire him yourself, as he loveth you, that he will put his own child to nourishing to another woman, and that his wife nourish yours. And when the child is born let it be delivered to me at yonder privy postern unchristened. So like as Merlin devised it was done. And when Sir Ector was come he made fiaunce to the king for to nourish the child like as the king desired; and there the king granted Sir Ector great rewards. Then when the lady was delivered, the king commanded two knights and two ladies to take the child, bound in a cloth of gold, and that ye deliver him to what poor man ye meet at the postern gate of the castle. So the child was delivered unto Merlin, and so he bare it forth unto Sir Ector, and made an holy man to christen him, and named him Arthur; and so Sir Ector's wife nourished him with her own pap.



CHAPTER IV. Of the death of King Uther Pendragon.

THEN within two years King Uther fell sick of a great malady. And in the meanwhile his enemies usurped upon him, and did a great battle upon his men, and slew many of his people. Sir, said Merlin, ye may not lie so as ye do, for ye must to the field though ye ride on an horse-litter: for ye shall never have the better of your enemies but if your person be there, and then shall ye have the victory. So it was done as Merlin had devised, and they carried the king forth in an horse-litter with a great host towards his enemies. And at St. Albans there met with the king a great host of the North. And that day Sir Ulfius and Sir Brastias did great deeds of arms, and King Uther's men overcame the Northern battle and slew many people, and put the remnant to flight. And then the king returned unto London, and made great joy of his victory. And then he fell passing sore sick, so that three days and three nights he was speechless: wherefore all the barons made great sorrow, and asked Merlin what counsel were best. There is none other remedy, said Merlin, but God will have his will. But look ye all barons be before King Uther to-morn, and God and I shall make him to speak. So on the morn all the barons with Merlin came to-fore the king; then Merlin said aloud unto King Uther, Sir, shall your son Arthur be king after your days, of this realm with all the appurtenance? Then Uther Pendragon turned him, and said in hearing of them all, I give him God's blessing and mine, and bid him pray for my soul, and righteously and worshipfully that he claim the crown, upon forfeiture of my blessing; and therewith he yielded up the ghost, and then was he interred as longed to a king. Wherefore the queen, fair Igraine, made great sorrow, and all the barons.



CHAPTER V. How Arthur was chosen king, and of wonders and marvels of a sword taken out of a stone by the said Arthur.

THEN stood the realm in great jeopardy long while, for every lord that was mighty of men made him strong, and many weened to have been king. Then Merlin went to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and counselled him for to send for all the lords of the realm, and all the gentlemen of arms, that they should to London come by Christmas, upon pain of cursing; and for this cause, that Jesus, that was born on that night, that he would of his great mercy show some miracle, as he was come to be king of mankind, for to show some miracle who should be rightwise king of this realm. So the Archbishop, by the advice of Merlin, sent for all the lords and gentlemen of arms that they should come by Christmas even unto London. And many of them made them clean of their life, that their prayer might be the more acceptable unto God. So in the greatest church of London, whether it were Paul's or not the French book maketh no mention, all the estates were long or day in the church for to pray. And when matins and the first mass was done, there was seen in the churchyard, against the high altar, a great stone four square, like unto a marble stone; and in midst thereof was like an anvil of steel a foot on high, and therein stuck a fair sword naked by the point, and letters there were written in gold about the sword that said thus:—Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil, is rightwise king born of all England. Then the people marvelled, and told it to the Archbishop. I command, said the Archbishop, that ye keep you within your church and pray unto God still, that no man touch the sword till the high mass be all done. So when all masses were done all the lords went to behold the stone and the sword. And when they saw the scripture some assayed, such as would have been king. But none might stir the sword nor move it. He is not here, said the Archbishop, that shall achieve the sword, but doubt not God will make him known. But this is my counsel, said the Archbishop, that we let purvey ten knights, men of good fame, and they to keep this sword. So it was ordained, and then there was made a cry, that every man should assay that would, for to win the sword. And upon New Year's Day the barons let make a jousts and a tournament, that all knights that would joust or tourney there might play, and all this was ordained for to keep the lords together and the commons, for the Archbishop trusted that God would make him known that should win the sword.

So upon New Year's Day, when the service was done, the barons rode unto the field, some to joust and some to tourney, and so it happened that Sir Ector, that had great livelihood about London, rode unto the jousts, and with him rode Sir Kay his son, and young Arthur that was his nourished brother; and Sir Kay was made knight at All Hallowmass afore. So as they rode to the jousts-ward, Sir Kay lost his sword, for he had left it at his father's lodging, and so he prayed young Arthur for to ride for his sword. I will well, said Arthur, and rode fast after the sword, and when he came home, the lady and all were out to see the jousting. Then was Arthur wroth, and said to himself, I will ride to the churchyard, and take the sword with me that sticketh in the stone, for my brother Sir Kay shall not be without a sword this day. So when he came to the churchyard, Sir Arthur alighted and tied his horse to the stile, and so he went to the tent, and found no knights there, for they were at the jousting. And so he handled the sword by the handles, and lightly and fiercely pulled it out of the stone, and took his horse and rode his way until he came to his brother Sir Kay, and delivered him the sword. And as soon as Sir Kay saw the sword, he wist well it was the sword of the stone, and so he rode to his father Sir Ector, and said: Sir, lo here is the sword of the stone, wherefore I must be king of this land. When Sir Ector beheld the sword, he returned again and came to the church, and there they alighted all three, and went into the church. And anon he made Sir Kay swear upon a book how he came to that sword. Sir, said Sir Kay, by my brother Arthur, for he brought it to me. How gat ye this sword? said Sir Ector to Arthur. Sir, I will tell you. When I came home for my brother's sword, I found nobody at home to deliver me his sword; and so I thought my brother Sir Kay should not be swordless, and so I came hither eagerly and pulled it out of the stone without any pain. Found ye any knights about this sword? said Sir Ector. Nay, said Arthur. Now, said Sir Ector to Arthur, I understand ye must be king of this land. Wherefore I, said Arthur, and for what cause? Sir, said Ector, for God will have it so; for there should never man have drawn out this sword, but he that shall be rightwise king of this land. Now let me see whether ye can put the sword there as it was, and pull it out again. That is no mastery, said Arthur, and so he put it in the stone; wherewithal Sir Ector assayed to pull out the sword and failed.

CHAPTER VI. How King Arthur pulled out the sword divers times.

Now assay, said Sir Ector unto Sir Kay. And anon he pulled at the sword with all his might; but it would not be. Now shall ye assay, said Sir Ector to Arthur. I will well, said Arthur, and pulled it out easily. And therewithal Sir Ector knelt down to the earth, and Sir Kay. Alas, said Arthur, my own dear father and brother, why kneel ye to me? Nay, nay, my lord Arthur, it is not so; I was never your father nor of your blood, but I wot well ye are of an higher blood than I weened ye were. And then Sir Ector told him all, how he was betaken him for to nourish him, and by whose commandment, and by Merlin's deliverance.

Then Arthur made great dole when he understood that Sir Ector was not his father. Sir, said Ector unto Arthur, will ye be my good and gracious lord when ye are king? Else were I to blame, said Arthur, for ye are the man in the world that I am most beholden to, and my good lady and mother your wife, that as well as her own hath fostered me and kept. And if ever it be God's will that I be king as ye say, ye shall desire of me what I may do, and I shall not fail you; God forbid I should fail you Sir, said Sir Ector, I will ask no more of you, but that ye will make my son, your foster brother, Sir Kay, seneschal of all your lands. That shall be done, said Arthur, and more, by the faith of my body, that never man shall have that office but he, while he and I live Therewithal they went unto the Archbishop, and told him how the sword was achieved, and by whom; and on Twelfth-day all the barons came thither, and to assay to take the sword, who that would assay. But there afore them all, there might none take it out but Arthur; wherefore there were many lords wroth, and said it was great shame unto them all and the realm, to be overgoverned with a boy of no high blood born. And so they fell out at that time that it was put off till Candlemas and then all the barons should meet there again; but always the ten knights were ordained to watch the sword day and night, and so they set a pavilion over the stone and the sword, and five always watched. So at Candlemas many more great lords came thither for to have won the sword, but there might none prevail. And right as Arthur did at Christmas, he did at Candlemas, and pulled out the sword easily, whereof the barons were sore aggrieved and put it off in delay till the high feast of Easter. And as Arthur sped before, so did he at Easter; yet there were some of the great lords had indignation that Arthur should be king, and put it off in a delay till the feast of Pentecost.

Then the Archbishop of Canterbury by Merlin's providence let purvey then of the best knights that they might get, and such knights as Uther Pendragon loved best and most trusted in his days. And such knights were put about Arthur as Sir Baudwin of Britain, Sir Kay, Sir Ulfius, Sir Brastias. All these, with many other, were always about Arthur, day and night, till the feast of Pentecost.



CHAPTER VII. How King Arthur was crowned, and how he made officers.

AND at the feast of Pentecost all manner of men assayed to pull at the sword that would assay; but none might prevail but Arthur, and pulled it out afore all the lords and commons that were there, wherefore all the commons cried at once, We will have Arthur unto our king, we will put him no more in delay, for we all see that it is God's will that he shall be our king, and who that holdeth against it, we will slay him. And therewithal they kneeled at once, both rich and poor, and cried Arthur mercy because they had delayed him so long, and Arthur forgave them, and took the sword between both his hands, and offered it upon the altar where the Archbishop was, and so was he made knight of the best man that was there. And so anon was the coronation made. And there was he sworn unto his lords and the commons for to be a true king, to stand with true justice from thenceforth the days of this life. Also then he made all lords that held of the crown to come in, and to do service as they ought to do. And many complaints were made unto Sir Arthur of great wrongs that were done since the death of King Uther, of many lands that were bereaved lords, knights, ladies, and gentlemen. Wherefore King Arthur made the lands to be given again unto them that owned them.

When this was done, that the king had stablished all the countries about London, then he let make Sir Kay seneschal of England; and Sir Baudwin of Britain was made constable; and Sir Ulfius was made chamberlain; and Sir Brastias was made warden to wait upon the north from Trent forwards, for it was that time the most party the king's enemies. But within few years after Arthur won all the north, Scotland, and all that were under their obeissance. Also Wales, a part of it, held against Arthur, but he overcame them all, as he did the remnant, through the noble prowess of himself and his knights of the Round Table.



CHAPTER VIII. How King Arthur held in Wales, at a Pentecost, a great feast, and what kings and lords came to his feast.

THEN the king removed into Wales, and let cry a great feast that it should be holden at Pentecost after the incoronation of him at the city of Carlion. Unto the feast came King Lot of Lothian and of Orkney, with five hundred knights with him. Also there came to the feast King Uriens of Gore with four hundred knights with him. Also there came to that feast King Nentres of Garlot, with seven hundred knights with him. Also there came to the feast the king of Scotland with six hundred knights with him, and he was but a young man. Also there came to the feast a king that was called the King with the Hundred Knights, but he and his men were passing well beseen at all points. Also there came the king of Carados with five hundred knights. And King Arthur was glad of their coming, for he weened that all the kings and knights had come for great love, and to have done him worship at his feast; wherefore the king made great joy, and sent the kings and knights great presents. But the kings would none receive, but rebuked the messengers shamefully, and said they had no joy to receive no gifts of a beardless boy that was come of low blood, and sent him word they would none of his gifts, but that they were come to give him gifts with hard swords betwixt the neck and the shoulders: and therefore they came thither, so they told to the messengers plainly, for it was great shame to all them to see such a boy to have a rule of so noble a realm as this land was. With this answer the messengers departed and told to King Arthur this answer. Wherefore, by the advice of his barons, he took him to a strong tower with five hundred good men with him. And all the kings aforesaid in a manner laid a siege to-fore him, but King Arthur was well victualed. And within fifteen days there came Merlin among them into the city of Carlion. Then all the kings were passing glad of Merlin, and asked him, For what cause is that boy Arthur made your king? Sirs, said Merlin, I shall tell you the cause, for he is King Uther Pendragon's son, born in wedlock, gotten on Igraine, the duke's wife of Tintagil. Then is he a bastard, they said all. Nay, said Merlin, after the death of the duke, more than three hours, was Arthur begotten, and thirteen days after King Uther wedded Igraine; and therefore I prove him he is no bastard. And who saith nay, he shall be king and overcome all his enemies; and, or he die, he shall be long king of all England, and have under his obeissance Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, and more realms than I will now rehearse. Some of the kings had marvel of Merlin's words, and deemed well that it should be as he said; and some of them laughed him to scorn, as King Lot; and more other called him a witch. But then were they accorded with Merlin, that King Arthur should come out and speak with the kings, and to come safe and to go safe, such surance there was made. So Merlin went unto King Arthur, and told him how he had done, and bade him fear not, but come out boldly and speak with them, and spare them not, but answer them as their king and chieftain; for ye shall overcome them all, whether they will or nill.



CHAPTER IX. Of the first war that King Arthur had, and how he won the field.

THEN King Arthur came out of his tower, and had under his gown a jesseraunt of double mail, and there went with him the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir Baudwin of Britain, and Sir Kay, and Sir Brastias: these were the men of most worship that were with him. And when they were met there was no meekness, but stout words on both sides; but always King Arthur answered them, and said he would make them to bow an he lived. Wherefore they departed with wrath, and King Arthur bade keep them well, and they bade the king keep him well. So the king returned him to the tower again and armed him and all his knights. What will ye do? said Merlin to the kings; ye were better for to stint, for ye shall not here prevail though ye were ten times so many. Be we well advised to be afeared of a dream-reader? said King Lot. With that Merlin vanished away, and came to King Arthur, and bade him set on them fiercely; and in the meanwhile there were three hundred good men, of the best that were with the kings, that went straight unto King Arthur, and that comforted him greatly. Sir, said Merlin to Arthur, fight not with the sword that ye had by miracle, till that ye see ye go unto the worse, then draw it out and do your best. So forthwithal King Arthur set upon them in their lodging. And Sir Baudwin, Sir Kay, and Sir Brastias slew on the right hand and on the left hand that it was marvel; and always King Arthur on horseback laid on with a sword, and did marvellous deeds of arms, that many of the kings had great joy of his deeds and hardiness.

Then King Lot brake out on the back side, and the King with the Hundred Knights, and King Carados, and set on Arthur fiercely behind him. With that Sir Arthur turned with his knights, and smote behind and before, and ever Sir Arthur was in the foremost press till his horse was slain underneath him. And therewith King Lot smote down King Arthur. With that his four knights received him and set him on horseback. Then he drew his sword Excalibur, but it was so bright in his enemies' eyes, that it gave light like thirty torches. And therewith he put them a-back, and slew much people. And then the commons of Carlion arose with clubs and staves and slew many knights; but all the kings held them together with their knights that were left alive, and so fled and departed. And Merlin came unto Arthur, and counselled him to follow them no further.



CHAPTER X. How Merlin counselled King Arthur to send for King Ban and King Bors, and of their counsel taken for the war.

SO after the feast and journey, King Arthur drew him unto London, and so by the counsel of Merlin, the king let call his barons to council, for Merlin had told the king that the six kings that made war upon him would in all haste be awroke on him and on his lands. Wherefore the king asked counsel at them all. They could no counsel give, but said they were big enough. Ye say well, said Arthur; I thank you for your good courage, but will ye all that loveth me speak with Merlin? ye know well that he hath done much for me, and he knoweth many things, and when he is afore you, I would that ye prayed him heartily of his best advice. All the barons said they would pray him and desire him. So Merlin was sent for, and fair desired of all the barons to give them best counsel. I shall say you, said Merlin, I warn you all, your enemies are passing strong for you, and they are good men of arms as be alive, and by this time they have gotten to them four kings more, and a mighty duke; and unless that our king have more chivalry with him than he may make within the bounds of his own realm, an he fight with them in battle, he shall be overcome and slain. What were best to do in this cause? said all the barons. I shall tell you, said Merlin, mine advice; there are two brethren beyond the sea, and they be kings both, and marvellous good men of their hands; and that one hight King Ban of Benwick, and that other hight King Bors of Gaul, that is France. And on these two kings warreth a mighty man of men, the King Claudas, and striveth with them for a castle, and great war is betwixt them. But this Claudas is so mighty of goods whereof he getteth good knights, that he putteth these two kings most part to the worse; wherefore this is my counsel, that our king and sovereign lord send unto the kings Ban and Bors by two trusty knights with letters well devised, that an they will come and see King Arthur and his court, and so help him in his wars, that he will be sworn unto them to help them in their wars against King Claudas. Now, what say ye unto this counsel? said Merlin. This is well counselled, said the king and all the barons.

Right so in all haste there were ordained to go two knights on the message unto the two kings. So were there made letters in the pleasant wise according unto King Arthur's desire. Ulfius and Brastias were made the messengers, and so rode forth well horsed and well armed and as the guise was that time, and so passed the sea and rode toward the city of Benwick. And there besides were eight knights that espied them, and at a strait passage they met with Ulfius and Brastias, and would have taken them prisoners; so they prayed them that they might pass, for they were messengers unto King Ban and Bors sent from King Arthur. Therefore, said the eight knights, ye shall die or be prisoners, for we be knights of King Claudas. And therewith two of them dressed their spears, and Ulfius and Brastias dressed their spears, and ran together with great raundom. And Claudas' knights brake their spears, and theirs to-held and bare the two knights out of their saddles to the earth, and so left them lying, and rode their ways. And the other six knights rode afore to a passage to meet with them again, and so Ulfius and Brastias smote other two down, and so passed on their ways. And at the fourth passage there met two for two, and both were laid unto the earth; so there was none of the eight knights but he was sore hurt or bruised. And when they come to Benwick it fortuned there were both kings, Ban and Bors.

And when it was told the kings that there were come messengers, there were sent unto them two knights of worship, the one hight Lionses, lord of the country of Payarne, and Sir Phariance a worshipful knight. Anon they asked from whence they came, and they said from King Arthur, king of England; so they took them in their arms and made great joy each of other. But anon, as the two kings wist they were messengers of Arthur's, there was made no tarrying, but forthwith they spake with the knights, and welcomed them in the faithfullest wise, and said they were most welcome unto them before all the kings living; and therewith they kissed the letters and delivered them. And when Ban and Bors understood the letters, then they were more welcome than they were before. And after the haste of the letters they gave them this answer, that they would fulfil the desire of King Arthur's writing, and Ulfius and Brastias, tarry there as long as they would, they should have such cheer as might be made them in those marches. Then Ulfius and Brastias told the kings of the adventure at their passages of the eight knights. Ha! ah! said Ban and Bors, they were my good friends. I would I had wist of them; they should not have escaped so. So Ulfius and Brastias had good cheer and great gifts, as much as they might bear away; and had their answer by mouth and by writing, that those two kings would come unto Arthur in all the haste that they might. So the two knights rode on afore, and passed the sea, and came to their lord, and told him how they had sped, whereof King Arthur was passing glad. At what time suppose ye the two kings will be here? Sir, said they, afore All Hallowmass. Then the king let purvey for a great feast, and let cry a great jousts. And by All Hallowmass the two kings were come over the sea with three hundred knights well arrayed both for the peace and for the war. And King Arthur met with them ten mile out of London, and there was great joy as could be thought or made. And on All Hallowmass at the great feast, sat in the hall the three kings, and Sir Kay seneschal served in the hall, and Sir Lucas the butler, that was Duke Corneus' son, and Sir Griflet, that was the son of Cardol, these three knights had the rule of all the service that served the kings. And anon, as they had washen and risen, all knights that would joust made them ready; by then they were ready on horseback there were seven hundred knights. And Arthur, Ban, and Bors, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir Ector, Kay's father, they were in a place covered with cloth of gold like an hall, with ladies and gentlewomen, for to behold who did best, and thereon to give judgment.



CHAPTER XI. Of a great tourney made by King Arthur and the two kings Ban and Bors, and how they went over the sea.

AND King Arthur and the two kings let depart the seven hundred knights in two parties. And there were three hundred knights of the realm of Benwick and of Gaul turned on the other side. Then they dressed their shields, and began to couch their spears many good knights. So Griflet was the first that met with a knight, one Ladinas, and they met so eagerly that all men had wonder; and they so fought that their shields fell to pieces, and horse and man fell to the earth; and both the French knight and the English knight lay so long that all men weened they had been dead. When Lucas the butler saw Griflet so lie, he horsed him again anon, and they two did marvellous deeds of arms with many bachelors. Also Sir Kay came out of an ambushment with five knights with him, and they six smote other six down. But Sir Kay did that day marvellous deeds of arms, that there was none did so well as he that day. Then there came Ladinas and Gracian, two knights of France, and did passing well, that all men praised them.

Then came there Sir Placidas, a good knight, and met with Sir Kay, and smote him down horse and man, where fore Sir Griflet was wroth, and met with Sir Placidas so hard, that horse and man fell to the earth. But when the five knights wist that Sir Kay had a fall, they were wroth out of wit, and therewith each of them five bare down a knight. When King Arthur and the two kings saw them begin to wax wroth on both parties, they leapt on small hackneys, and let cry that all men should depart unto their lodging. And so they went home and unarmed them, and so to evensong and supper. And after, the three kings went into a garden, and gave the prize unto Sir Kay, and to Lucas the butler, and unto Sir Griflet. And then they went unto council, and with them Gwenbaus, the brother unto Sir Ban and Bors, a wise clerk, and thither went Ulfius and Brastias, and Merlin. And after they had been in council, they went unto bed. And on the morn they heard mass, and to dinner, and so to their council, and made many arguments what were best to do. At the last they were concluded, that Merlin should go with a token of King Ban, and that was a ring, unto his men and King Bors'; and Gracian and Placidas should go again and keep their castles and their countries, as for [dread of King Claudas] King Ban of Benwick, and King Bors of Gaul had ordained them, and so passed the sea and came to Benwick. And when the people saw King Ban's ring, and Gracian and Placidas, they were glad, and asked how the kings fared, and made great joy of their welfare and cording, and according unto the sovereign lords desire, the men of war made them ready in all haste possible, so that they were fifteen thousand on horse and foot, and they had great plenty of victual with them, by Merlin's provision. But Gracian and Placidas were left to furnish and garnish the castles, for dread of King Claudas. Right so Merlin passed the sea, well victualled both by water and by land. And when he came to the sea he sent home the footmen again, and took no more with him but ten thousand men on horseback, the most part men of arms, and so shipped and passed the sea into England, and landed at Dover; and through the wit of Merlin, he had the host northward, the priviest way that could be thought, unto the forest of Bedegraine, and there in a valley he lodged them secretly.

Then rode Merlin unto Arthur and the two kings, and told them how he had sped; whereof they had great marvel, that man on earth might speed so soon, and go and come. So Merlin told them ten thousand were in the forest of Bedegraine, well armed at all points. Then was there no more to say, but to horseback went all the host as Arthur had afore purveyed. So with twenty thousand he passed by night and day, but there was made such an ordinance afore by Merlin, that there should no man of war ride nor go in no country on this side Trent water, but if he had a token from King Arthur, where through the king's enemies durst not ride as they did to-fore to espy.

CHAPTER XII. How eleven kings gathered a great host against King Arthur.

AND SO within a little space the three kings came unto the castle of Bedegraine, and found there a passing fair fellowship, and well beseen, whereof they had great joy, and victual they wanted none. This was the cause of the northern host: that they were reared for the despite and rebuke the six kings had at Carlion. And those six kings by their means, gat unto them five other kings; and thus they began to gather their people.

And now they sware that for weal nor woe, they should not leave other, till they had destroyed Arthur. And then they made an oath. The first that began the oath was the Duke of Cambenet, that he would bring with him five thousand men of arms, the which were ready on horseback. Then sware King Brandegoris of Stranggore that he would bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Then sware King Clariance of Northumberland he would bring three thousand men of arms. Then sware the King of the Hundred Knights, that was a passing good man and a young, that he would bring four thousand men of arms on horseback. Then there swore King Lot, a passing good knight, and Sir Gawain's father, that he would bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore King Urience, that was Sir Uwain's father, of the land of Gore, and he would bring six thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore King Idres of Cornwall, that he would bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore King Cradelmas to bring five thousand men on horseback. Also there swore King Agwisance of Ireland to bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore King Nentres to bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore King Carados to bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. So their whole host was of clean men of arms on horseback fifty thousand, and a-foot ten thousand of good men's bodies. Then were they soon ready, and mounted upon horse and sent forth their fore-riders, for these eleven kings in their ways laid a siege unto the castle of Bedegraine; and so they departed and drew toward Arthur, and left few to abide at the siege, for the castle of Bedegraine was holden of King Arthur, and the men that were therein were Arthur's.

CHAPTER XIII. Of a dream of the King with the Hundred Knights.

So by Merlin's advice there were sent fore-riders to skim the country, and they met with the fore-riders of the north, and made them to tell which way the host came, and then they told it to Arthur, and by King Ban and Bors' council they let burn and destroy all the country afore them, there they should ride.

The King with the Hundred Knights met a wonder dream two nights afore the battle, that there blew a great wind, and blew down their castles and their towns, and after that came a water and bare it all away. All that heard of the sweven said it was a token of great battle. Then by counsel of Merlin, when they wist which way the eleven kings would ride and lodge that night, at midnight they set upon them, as they were in their pavilions. But the scout-watch by their host cried, Lords! at arms! for here be your enemies at your hand!

CHAPTER XIV. How the eleven kings with their host fought against Arthur and his host, and many great feats of the war.

THEN King Arthur and King Ban and King Bors, with their good and trusty knights, set on them so fiercely that they made them overthrow their pavilions on their heads, but the eleven kings, by manly prowess of arms, took a fair champaign, but there was slain that morrowtide ten thousand good men's bodies. And so they had afore them a strong passage, yet were they fifty thousand of hardy men. Then it drew toward day. Now shall ye do by mine advice, said Merlin unto the three kings: I would that King Ban and King Bors, with their fellowship of ten thousand men, were put in a wood here beside, in an ambushment, and keep them privy, and that they be laid or the light of the day come, and that they stir not till ye and your knights have fought with them long. And when it is daylight, dress your battle even afore them and the passage, that they may see all your host, for then will they be the more hardy, when they see you but about twenty thousand men, and cause them to be the gladder to suffer you and your host to come over the passage. All the three kings and the whole barons said that Merlin said passingly well, and it was done anon as Merlin had devised. So on the morn, when either host saw other, the host of the north was well comforted. Then to Ulfius and Brastias were delivered three thousand men of arms, and they set on them fiercely in the passage, and slew on the right hand and on the left hand that it was wonder to tell.

When that the eleven kings saw that there was so few a fellowship did such deeds of arms, they were ashamed and set on them again fiercely; and there was Sir Ulfius's horse slain under him, but he did marvellously well on foot. But the Duke Eustace of Cambenet and King Clariance of Northumberland, were alway grievous on Ulfius. Then Brastias saw his fellow fared so withal he smote the duke with a spear, that horse and man fell down. That saw King Clariance and returned unto Brastias, and either smote other so that horse and man went to the earth, and so they lay long astonied, and their horses' knees brast to the hard bone. Then came Sir Kay the seneschal with six fellows with him, and did passing well. With that came the eleven kings, and there was Griflet put to the earth, horse and man, and Lucas the butler, horse and man, by King Brandegoris, and King Idres, and King Agwisance. Then waxed the medley passing hard on both parties. When Sir Kay saw Griflet on foot, he rode on King Nentres and smote him down, and led his horse unto Sir Griflet, and horsed him again. Also Sir Kay with the same spear smote down King Lot, and hurt him passing sore. That saw the King with the Hundred Knights, and ran unto Sir Kay and smote him down, and took his horse, and gave him King Lot, whereof he said gramercy. When Sir Griflet saw Sir Kay and Lucas the butler on foot, he took a sharp spear, great and square, and rode to Pinel, a good man of arms, and smote horse and man down, and then he took his horse, and gave him unto Sir Kay. Then King Lot saw King Nentres on foot, he ran unto Melot de la Roche, and smote him down, horse and man, and gave King Nentres the horse, and horsed him again. Also the King of the Hundred Knights saw King Idres on foot; then he ran unto Gwiniart de Bloi, and smote him down, horse and man, and gave King Idres the horse, and horsed him again; and King Lot smote down Clariance de la Forest Savage, and gave the horse unto Duke Eustace. And so when they had horsed the kings again they drew them, all eleven kings, together, and said they would be revenged of the damage that they had taken that day. The meanwhile came in Sir Ector with an eager countenance, and found Ulfius and Brastias on foot, in great peril of death, that were foul defoiled under horse-feet.

Then Arthur as a lion, ran unto King Cradelment of North Wales, and smote him through the left side, that the horse and the king fell down; and then he took the horse by the rein, and led him unto Ulfius, and said, Have this horse, mine old friend, for great need hast thou of horse. Gramercy, said Ulfius. Then Sir Arthur did so marvellously in arms, that all men had wonder. When the King with the Hundred Knights saw King Cradelment on foot, he ran unto Sir Ector, that was well horsed, Sir Kay's father, and smote horse and man down, and gave the horse unto the king, and horsed him again. And when King Arthur saw the king ride on Sir Ector's horse, he was wroth and with his sword he smote the king on the helm, that a quarter of the helm and shield fell down, and so the sword carved down unto the horse's neck, and so the king and the horse fell down to the ground. Then Sir Kay came unto Sir Morganore, seneschal with the King of the Hundred Knights, and smote him down, horse and man, and led the horse unto his father, Sir Ector; then Sir Ector ran unto a knight, hight Lardans, and smote horse and man down, and led the horse unto Sir Brastias, that great need had of an horse, and was greatly defoiled. When Brastias beheld Lucas the butler, that lay like a dead man under the horses' feet, and ever Sir Griflet did marvellously for to rescue him, and there were always fourteen knights on Sir Lucas; then Brastias smote one of them on the helm, that it went to the teeth, and he rode to another and smote him, that the arm flew into the field. Then he went to the third and smote him on the shoulder, that shoulder and arm flew in the field. And when Griflet saw rescues, he smote a knight on the temples, that head and helm went to the earth, and Griflet took the horse of that knight, and led him unto Sir Lucas, and bade him mount upon the horse and revenge his hurts. For Brastias had slain a knight to-fore and horsed Griflet.

CHAPTER XV. Yet of the same battle.

THEN Lucas saw King Agwisance, that late had slain Moris de la Roche, and Lucas ran to him with a short spear that was great, that he gave him such a fall, that the horse fell down to the earth. Also Lucas found there on foot, Bloias de La Flandres, and Sir Gwinas, two hardy knights, and in that woodness that Lucas was in, he slew two bachelors and horsed them again. Then waxed the battle passing hard on both parties, but Arthur was glad that his knights were horsed again, and then they fought together, that the noise and sound rang by the water and the wood. Wherefore King Ban and King Bors made them ready, and dressed their shields and harness, and they were so courageous that many knights shook and bevered for eagerness. All this while Lucas, and Gwinas, and Briant, and Bellias of Flanders, held strong medley against six kings, that was King Lot, King Nentres, King Brandegoris, King Idres, King Uriens, and King Agwisance. So with the help of Sir Kay and of Sir Griflet they held these six kings hard, that unnethe they had any power to defend them. But when Sir Arthur saw the battle would not be ended by no manner, he fared wood as a lion, and steered his horse here and there, on the right hand, and on the left hand, that he stinted not till he had slain twenty knights. Also he wounded King Lot sore on the shoulder, and made him to leave that ground, for Sir Kay and Griflet did with King Arthur there great deeds of arms. Then Ulfius, and Brastias, and Sir Ector encountered against the Duke Eustace, and King Cradelment, and King Clariance of Northumberland, and King Carados, and against the King with the Hundred Knights. So these knights encountered with these kings, that they made them to avoid the ground. Then King Lot made great dole for his damages and his fellows, and said unto the ten kings, But if ye will do as I devise we shall be slain and destroyed; let me have the King with the Hundred Knights, and King Agwisance, and King Idres, and the Duke of Cambenet, and we five kings will have fifteen thousand men of arms with us, and we will go apart while ye six kings hold medley with twelve thousand; an we see that ye have foughten with them long, then will we come on fiercely, and else shall we never match them, said King Lot, but by this mean. So they departed as they here devised, and six kings made their party strong against Arthur, and made great war long.

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